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Sep 2015|Volume 12|Issue 9
Sep 2015|Vol 12|Issue 9

Insurers now offer covers for AYUSH treatments too

         The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irdai) too wants inclusion of AYUSH (Ayurveda,Yoga & Naturopathy, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy) methods in health covers but want healthcare providers to make efforts to standardise protocols and cost. Insurance companies are increasingly providing cover for AYUSH treatments in their policies. However, utilization of the cover still remains negligible. “Irdai had sent communication to insurers on including AYUSH as part of the health cover. But the regulator has not made it mandatory. Most of the insurance companies are now providing cover to such treatment,” said Suresh Sugathan, head, heath insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.

        Bajaj Allianz General Insurance had launched Healthcare Supreme last year, which covers AYUSH treatments. AYUSH has been part of some of the group medical policies offered by the company. Apollo Munich’s Family Floater plan too provides a cover of up to Rs 20,000 for AYUSH treatment. Star Health and Allied Insurance has several policies, which cover AYUSH treatments. Most of insurers provide cover only for hospitalisation and largely Ayush treatments do not require hospitalisation as in the case of modern medicine. In case of Bajaj Allianz, it only covers in-patient expenses in a government hospital. The number of government-run AYUSH hospitals is limited and those providing in-patient facilities are fewer.

        “We insist only on treatment by a licenced practitioner. All the expenses, including consultation charges as part of the hospitalization is covered,” said D Rama, assistant vice-president, product cell, Star Health Insurance.

        For insurance companies, lack of standardised treatment protocol and cost structure remains big deterrents. “Alternative medicines need regularization of treatment protocol and the cost also varies from practitioner to practitioner. We have in-house team to verify the treatment and cost,” said Sugathan. “The chances of abuse are higher as there is no specific treatment protocol. Treatment for the same ailment can cost Rs 5000 and Rs 50,000 depending upon the practitioner,” added Rama. Insurance companies want healthcare providers to make efforts to standardise protocols and cost. They also hope that these are early days and gradually the utilization rates would go up.